The colthunt to find the cursed young zebra who is responsible for the heavy snowfall and ice covering everything around the once thriving zebra coastal city.
Unfortunately, this meant that Curry had to rush to Felfire and the colt and his uncle, heading off through the barren, icy wastes to find the witch doctor responsible.
The journey was hard and unforgiving, but the cave where she dwells was found eventually.
Unfortunately, the cold outside did not leave any room for leaving anyone outside to wait, which turned out to be lucky once the evil enchantress has turned up.
By all accounts, she was more monster than pony or zebra at this point, only voodoo magic keeping her undead form from revealing itself.
However, the power of Felfire's dagger has sapped those necromantic energies and absorbed it, leaving the undead hag to die after the battle with Curry.
The colt, excitedly, rushed outside, only to dejectedly see that the death of the witch has not lifted the curse and the cold was still to persist. His uncle told him it is alright, embracing him in a hug as he said how sorry he was. No one even saw him pull the blade he sunk into the heart of the child, quickly turning it onto his own throat right afterwards.
Still, as Felfire rushed to his side and even as his blood colored the snow around him red, he smiled as the super-imposed cutie mark faded and he saw the snowflakes from the sky disappear. The last one to have fallen landed on his muzzle as he closed his eyes and breathed his last.
However, the dagger stirred with power. It whispered in unspeakable tongues to Felfire, telling her she can atone for every sin and make everything alright. The dark magic left no room for arguments, coursing outwards from the artifact into an eldritch flash.
Once the magic subsided, the colt coughed and breathed again. Felfire felt as if a great weight has been lifted from her soul and the dagger has fallen silent… still, she could not bring herself to get rid of it, her very body aching any time it got too far away from her even in it's dormant state.
All of this obviously made the walk back rather awkward, and the colt, despite all odds, managed to be happy with his entire family gone, knowing he can start anew.
Upon arriving back, it turned out things have been busy in the city too. Captain Steel of the milicia has ordered to quell the recent riots for food with force, to which Crimson Tides, the Naval Donkey, called him a disgrace to Equestria and challenged him to a honorable duel - he, to his mistake, set the terms to the death. He was no match for the nimble, experienced jenny. After his death, she has taken the milicia of the outpost over, using them instead to work together with the Sisters of the Church to get food to as many starving zebras as possible.
Sister Silver has sworn to take in and raise the now orphaned colt too.
Buangan, after expressing her thanks for getting her off the island, regretfully announced she must walk her own path.
With Crimson Tides electing to stay behind and command the Militia of the outpost until the Equestrian Navy can pick her up, the ship has set sail with a small skeleton crew of Captain Splinterproof, Angler, Skylight, Curry and Felfire.
After several days of sailing, during the dead of the night when the Moon was highest in the sky, with tears in her eyes, Skylight has cast a spell on Curry to knock him out before putting him into one of the small escape boats. No one even noticed they were gone until morning came. Without knowing where to look first, Skylight has enough time for the plan.
You come to your senses, groggily, in a tiny boat together with Skylight. From what you can see, it is dawn, and you are approaching the harbor of some city… it looks… familiar. You've never been here, but it looks like you know the cityscape and the streets, as if you have been here before…
What I know for sure is that it isn't the boat. And if it isn't the boat, that means something happened.
I have to get up. Can I even move?
Yes you can, although you feel a bit dizzy and your hooves feel all shaky and weak.
You notice Skylight is here, using her magic to move the paddles of this small boat.
"Shh. Don't try to move. We are almost there. I'll explain everything."
"What have you done? Where is… where is the boat? The others?"
Try to stand, taking a bit of a wide stance to balance out the whole wobbly legs and spinning head thing.
As you try to stand you always fall over, risking the boat to capsize but the unicorn mare quickly catches you with her magic.
"Sit down! The others are safe! They will… catch up in a few days, I am sure. But this, Curry, this is important. It could wait no longer. We were running out of time."
"What are you even… why? Why go so far as to… to abduct me in the night like some sort of… why me?"
Fine, so the legs don't work yet. I'll at least start focusing on settling the spinning in my head.
At least you are not sick.
You also notice that she is… not heading to the bay, but towards an abandoned, old stone pier that has fallen to misuse and does not seem to have any ponies around.
"It was no mistake that you and I met where we have, Curry. It was Destiny… The Princess, she wanted me to be there so I could find you."
"And what sort of plans did your princess have for me, then, that were so important I am to be stolen from the child in my care?"
I can at least sit, right? Sitting's easier than standing.
"And where are you taking me? This seems far too secluded for priestly purposes."
You can sit, yes.
Princess? She is your Princess too."
She says quickly, but then focuses her attention on safely landing the boat by the stone pier.
"Let's say I don't argue that point. You haven't answered the rest of my questions, Skylight."
She lets out a weary chuckle.
"You would only have… more questions to be answered if I did. Just trust me, for just a bit, okay?"
She hops out onto the stone, offering a hoof to you.
"Sorry about the spell. I could not risk you not coming along on your own or the captain butting in."
I'll not take it. I still need to stand properly, after all.
"So your answer to that, instead of explaining why I should go with you, is to abduct me. Surely, you assumed, this would cause me to trust you implicitly."
Snort in derision.
"And not a care for the one in my charge. You know that child isn't going to take my disappearance well."
"You… do not understand, this is bigger than she is. Bigger than both of us. She will be fine!"
She lets out a whinnie.
"I could not let you risk dreaming about it before you got here."
"You don't know that! You don't know what burdens she carries!"
Once I've got my feet under me, I'll continue.
"Now, you will explain why you've brought me here or I swear by the Sisters I will swim
back to that boat."
She looks like she is about to break down in tears, but then she stomps her hoof.
"Because you have to meet our mother!"
She takes a deep breath.
"Your questions will have to wait until then."
She floats out a pair of brown, simple robes from her saddlebags, draping one over herself and the other to you.
"Put this on, and make sure to wear the hood. There are ponies here who do want our presence here."
Confusion will be evident on my face.
She seems a bit flustered.
"Yes, you heard me right. Now, I told you that you would only ask more questions, so put the robes on so we can get going and you can have some answers."
I'll hesistate for a moment longer, then throw on the robes and climb up onto the pier.
"Lead on then, 'sister'."
She hoods up too, nodding.
"Don't stray and keep up."
Might as well get this farce over with. The sooner I get this sorted, the sooner I can work on meeting back up with Felfire.
The two of you swiftly and silently make your way through the city.
Some streets… look familiar, even though you don't remember ever being here.
What is more worrying is that the only temples you see all have banners of dark fabric with a teal, snake-like eye on it.
You also do not see any guards anywhere, but you do see some ponies walking around in dark robes.
It takes a while to get through the city, but eventually you get out on the other side.
On the outskirts, you see what used to be a beautiful temple dedicated to Luna once…
Now it lies in ruins, the towers all cracked or collapsed, the gardens overgrown, the windows shattered.
You see dozens of signs warning ponies to stay away.
Grimace under my hood.
"What a mess."
She shakes her head.
"Only the protective magics of Luna prevented it from being demolished completely. Those who have the darkness of the nightmares in their heart cannot go near it."
She says as she trots towards it on the beaten, overgrown path.
"So, is that who we just went past, then?"
Follow along with her.
"Nightmare cultists, operating more or less in the open?"
"Took over the entire city. We are far away enough from Equestria that they can't do anything about it… and the ponies here do not want to complain, getting all their 'liberties' for just obeying and doing what they want."
Snort in disgust.
"So they just let it fester until it swallows them whole. Obviously the best
"Some tried to fight. They were made into examples. The rest fled while they could."
"To where? I'd imagine the first place the cult locked down was the port."
Keep an ear out for anything that might be following us.
"Pegasi flew, other stole ships under the dead of night or try to storm them during the day."
The two of you are alone, at least.
You suddenly feel a cold chill run over your spine as you to enter the archway into the inside of the temple ruins.
Shiver slightly, but continue following after Skylight.
"So, I take it some of those unable to flee, but not willing to bend the knee, holed up here?"
She frowns again.
"Only one pony…"
She stops, looking at the altar.
You feel a chill again, when you see that before the altar is… the form of an elderly mare, floating in the air on what appears to be butterfly wings made out of pure moonlight.
Her voice echoes around the temple, as if coming from every direction at once.
"Who dares tresspass into the sacred domain of Princes Luna?"
The light outside has died down completely, and you are trapped in the darkness, only the moonlight wings illuminating the altar and the mare!
"One who keeps the faith cannot be a trespasser. Who are you, to claim guardianship of this place?"
Stand firm. Maybe drop the hood.
Once you do so, the moonlight fills the room more, and the older mare floats down.
You see tears sparkling in the corners of her eyes.
"…Curry? Is that really you?"
I'll glance between her and Skylight.
"That… is my name, yes."
Well, now's a really bad time to have a shit recollection of what my own mother looks like, isn't it.
It was hard to see her with all the blinding white ligh around her.
But as she landed in front of you, and the light fades.
Yep, that's her, with an extra 20 years, and another 10 years in wrinkles of stress.
You are caught in surprise as she hugs you close to her heart!
Well, that's certainly… surprising that she'd be so happy to see me. I thought the both of my parents hadn't really minded much that I'd gone, well, dead as far as they knew.
I guess there's no harm in letting her hug it out, for a bit. It'll give me time to think of questions here.
She does so for a minute or two before letting you go, holding your cheek in a hoof.
"I am… so sorry, Curry."
I'll bite back a flippant remark about how apparently easily replaced I was, but I can't just sit here like an idiot forever.
"How long… how long did you look for me after I went missing?"
She looks at Skylight.
"As soon as your sister was mature enough to look. I could not leave this Temple or those monters would have destroyed what was left of it…"
"But if your father did not sacrifice his life to get you on a boat out at sea, you would have surely perished at the hooves of the cultists. It tore me apart, but your safety could not have been guaranteed here."
Confusion will be wildly apparent on my face.
Shake my head.
"No, that's… that's not what happened."
Step back slightly.
"There wasn't any boat. No cultists. Nothing like that. We were at the beach, I was in the water. I got swept away from shore, and no one… no one came for me."
Take another step back, shaking my head.
"I was abandoned."
There'll be a tinge of desperate belief to that.
She just gives you a sad look.
"When you hear a lie enough times, it will become true. Was it not your caretaker who told you that was what happened? On dark nights, did you not have dreams and nightmares about these streets on fire?"
Did I? It's been so long. Who can remember the nightmares of a child?
Shake my head again.
"All she said is that she plucked a drowning child from the sea."
Was the past I believe simply a nightmare overwriting what actually happened? No, that can't be right. It can't be.
"I don't… can't believe this. Not after all this time. All these years."
If the port was taken by cultists, then how did I get out of Autumnsreach? There wasn't a boat in that underwater temple. How did I live down there for so long without ever having an inkling of what was going on on the surface?
Put my head in my hooves for a second, a sharp pain building under the horn.
"Nothing makes sense!"
Yes, but are you sure
that was Autumnsreach where you grow up?
You never really saw a sign for it, did you?
Or if you did but could not read yet, how do you know what was actually written on it.
"Shhh shh, I know this must be a lot for you, son… but you are here now, after all these years, we have finally found you. Luna has guided us to you, and you to us… to fulfill your Destiny."
Wasn't I already fulfilling my destiny? I went out from the temple, righted wrongs, saved… saved Felfire from… what did I save her from? She's host to a parasitic demon living in a knife! Certainly, it's no worse than being surrounded and abused by those savages, but… can it really be called saving
her? Am I such a failure at everything that even the core of my self
Sitting heavily, I'll give up on trying to back out of here. Everything's falling apart and I can't keep the pieces together.
"And if I find myself unequal to this destiny? What then?"
But you can still get her to Equestria! Fix her wings, maybe cure her from the effects of that knife too… Let her live a proper life.
Skylight sits down beside you, stroking your back comfortingly.
The older unicorn mare in front of you, your mother speaks sternly, yet with a hint of sadness.
"This is no time for doubts. Curry, I am glad that Skylight has found you, and I wish I could spend more time with you, be the mother to you that I never could be and you deserved but, I cannot. I am old and dying… and if you cannot inherit the Moonlight, Princess Luna may forever be absorbed by the Nightmare."
Snap back to attention.
I'd try to stand, but I wasn't thinking about making that easy a second ago, so I won't.
"What do you mean? I know managing to speak with her meant the Nightmare got equal time, but I wasn't aware…"
Take the time to stand up, properly.
"What am I supposed to do?"
"There are not many Lunites remaining, not those who are truly blessed by the Moon. The sacred duty of the Guardian must be passed down."
You feel Skylight sniffle beside you.
"Your sister has tried to do so, but has been judged and deemed unworthy. The reason it was so important for you to survive, Curry… is so you could one day return here, finish the ritual and rebuild the temples of Lunites that we have lost so the Nightmare remains contained for as long as she can be."
"And what is this ritual?"
My own problems can wait their turn until this is resolved.
She looks out the broken windows.
"Not yet. We must wait until Night falls."
"To even hear the details of it?"
That will leave me with far too much time with my own thoughts. But I suppose I'll have to sort them eventually.
"Alright. I suppose I should take the time to collect myself."
How much time is there until dark?
"I cannot tell you the details. You must be judged by Princess Luna of your worth as you are."
It is about an hour or two until midday… so quite a few.
I'll inwardly quail at that. My sense of self-worth was upended just as surely as my sense of self just moments ago.
"I… I would like it if, after I've gotten myself a bit more together, we could talk."
I'll scratch the back of my neck with a hoof for a moment.
"About how things have gone. To make up for lost time."
"Of course. If you need anything, or just some time alone to think… whatever I can provide, I will."
"Thank you… mother."
And with that, I'll seclude myself for a bit to sort through everything so far. A past forgotten, a location unknown for 20 years, reentering the world through means I'm not even sure of anymore… It's enough to cause a stallion to think he'd been spirited away until he was let loose.
Though, recalling how my teacher was a pony who looked closer to a bundle of seaweed than a pony, that may not have been too far off.
I'll probably spend at least a couple hours putting things in order again, mentally speaking, and then spend the rest of the day speaking with Skylight and our mother. Getting the lowdown of what happened, how things went after my departure, Skylight's adventures, and mine as well if they wanted to know them.
At this point, I'd probably tell them about the dagger, and what might be in it.
You spend a few hours just… sulking.
Did you really forget? Or have your dreams of the truth been suppressed by Princess Luna herself so your fate may play out exactly as it has, only returning here after you have saved Felfire?
If that place wasn't Autumnsreach, where was it? Was your mentor in on this the entire time, following the guidance of Luna or some note left by your parents?
Skylight tells you that she has managed to be passed off as a nurse in town, avoiding suspicious but learning about both Princesses in secret before venturing out on her own as soon as she was sixteen to find you, having travelled all around Equestria and beyond just to seek you out.
Your mother tells you how a mare named Sorrow Sky has been tainted by the Nigthmares since her childhood, but nopony knew for her parents raised her in secrecy. However, when she got her cutie mark, a part of the Nightmare took hold of her very soul, guiding her to plot… over the years, in secrecy she built her following on threats, promises and dark magic. She struck the Lunite temple first on the night their magic was at it's weekest, the anniversary of Nightmare Moon taking over Princess Luna.
With the Lunites slaughtered and most of the guards bribed, converted or driven off, Sorrow quickly took over the entirety of Autumnsreach, robbing every other temple of it's power in the city, slaughtering any Celestial or follower of any other deity.
Ever since then, she has been biding her time, watching, waiting, probing, trying to get into the remains of the Lunite temple to pilfer it's power.
Said power lies within a magical artifact your mother is guarding that she has shown you… an ebonwood staff with a catalyst that is a rock directly from the Moon itself. Should Sorrow of the Nightmare followers ever get it while your mother is still the last guardian… The Nigth would last forever.
Sadly, neither Skylight nor your mother knew of a way how such a curse like that could be lifted.
It's not sulking, it's self-reflection! It's a very important facet of spiritual and mental growth. Supposedly.
As for everything else… well, that's a long time to live under the sword.
"You don't suppose she would have taken notice when Skylight and I arrived, do you? And let us sneak in here?"
"She has spies everywhere… the robes may have helped, but I cannot know."
She shakes her head.
"I can only hope she does not know because of the preparation."
"Then we'll have to hope we have remained unseen."
I'll scratch my chin a moment.
"Speaking of preparations, though, is there anything I should be doing before dark?"
She shakes her head.
"You needn't do anything but pray."
How long until showtime? We must be getting close to evening now, right?
Yes, the sun is slowly dipping beyond the horizon.
You see the giant marble carving of the Moon above the Altar light up slowly but surely as the last rays of orange disappear, giving room to the pale white of the moon.
Skylight excuses herself to give you two some room.
I suppose I should just head to the front of it, settle down, and start praying, then. But do I really want her to answer? The last time that happened, it allowed the nightmare more purchase over her. But if this ceremony is to pass along guardianship and keep the nightmare contained, then it'll even it out, right?
Sigh, and shake my head. I'll have to have faith that this is the right thing to do. Resolved, I'll begin to pray in earnest.
There is no answer, you do not hear Princess Luna answer you.
However, the light from the Moon carving slowly shifts the ligth over to you, basking you in it's glory.
Well, I wasn't expecting an immediate answer. Rituals tend to take time. I'll just keep praying.
The pale moonlight of the butterfly wings fills the temple again…
You see your mother walk to the other side of the altar, holding the beautiful staff…
It is nice, but it's power comes from the hearts of the ones using it. As does its beauty. I'm certain that if it fell into the wrong hooves, it would not stay as it is now, a softly shining beacon of moonlight.
She bows her head in prayer too, her horn glowing with a soft, soothing blue light.
You finally hear the voice.
The voice of Princess Luna.
You see an ethereal apparation in her form, projected from the staff onto the Altar.
Snap up and to attention.
This… is really her, right? I mean, I've seen her before, and this isn't illusion or something else?
This is her sacred temple.
You feel her presence before you.
Just like in your dreams but this…
This is the real deal and not her dreamwalking.
Bow my head.
"Rise, faithful subject. Where doth thy alliegences lie, Curry?"
"Where they have always lain. With you, Princess Luna."
"Is thy heart pure and unwavering?"
"Art thee willing to serve the Princess of the night?
Art thee willing to fight and die for your Princess?
Art thee ready to follow your Princess and trust her with your life?"
"To my last breath and beyond it, my Princess."
"Can thee bear the responsibility of being the sacred Guardian of thy faith until the day thee groweth old and passeth it along?"
The Princess before you gives you a stern look, staring into your soul.
"Thy speaketh the truth. In time, thine fate and duties will be revealed.
Thy need only know thou arth the new Guardian of the Moon."
I'll bow my head.
"In your service, now and forever."
Luna spreads her wings, floating upwards a bit, and you see your mother approach, her horn glowing.
"Present thine horn, Curry."
Raise my horn into position.
She leans hers close until they almost touch, the blue glow from hers spreading over to you…
The glow of her magic turns a pale white, like the butterlfy wings…
While you feel your own magic to be bolstered, and you feel it inside your heart and soul…
You… did it, you became the Guardian of the Moon!
You inherited a part of Princess Luna's magic!
Not only that, but your horn now glows the same soothing blue as hers, not of your own!
I'll feel a surge of pride for a moment, but I can't let that run out of control. I'll smile, though.
Once I'm sure that part of the ritual's over, I'll raise my head.